The Brightest Star
The Warmaster seldom has a moment of peace. The title is but unworn and new to him, but the duties that burden him have all but increased. The paperwork alone occupies a large bulk of his time. He can only hope that soon he will be able to delegate it to his subordinates. What is more, his elevation has not absolved him of his duties as the commander of an Expedition Fleet. The usual complications and issues await his attention.
Nevertheless, he has managed to find a moment, in which he will not have to be the Warmaster. For a while, he can just be Horus. He has sent away his advisors and instructed them not to bother him, unless it’s at least a small scale invasion. Now, he stands in his sanctum and tries to chase away the thoughts of obligations.
Shaking his head, he stops in front of his books. Those he keeps in his private sanctuary are merely a drop in the sea of knowledge he has absorbed. They are his most beloved pieces of writing, the ones he enjoys most. All of them are worn from multiple readings. His hand hovers over the tomes, before electing to take the oldest one.
It is not a book the public would expect a Primarch to read, but it is one of Horus’s most treasured possessions. While he does concur that he cannot learn anything of value from this tome, he considers it a treasure none the less. It is the very first gift he has received from his father. The memory of the day when he was given it is still fresh in his mind.
He flips the pages casually, as he wanders back to his desk. Once he stops, he leans against the massive piece of furniture, his hand resting on the scarred wood; too engrossed to bother sitting down. He opens the tome and starts reading the chapter on the Dreadful Sagittary anew.
By now, he knows it practically by heart, but it is of little consequence to him. It is the sign Father has chosen for him and when he reads about it, it feels like he is still with him.
The book is old and worn by numerous readings. Abbaddon recognizes it—Horus had shown it to him and the Mournival, back when Loken and Trogaddon were still his brothers. A gift from the False Emperor, he had thought the Primarch had gotten rid of it long ago.
And yet, he found it, lying innocuously among the other books. A bitter laugh escapes his lips—as if he needs more evidence that Horus was weak. The old primer is nothing but further proof that the former Warmaster had not been the chosen one the Gods needed.
Horus was weak. Abbaddon had learned the truth of it as he watched their cause crumble just as the Warmaster’s life had crumbled in the face of the wrath of the Anathema. Even with all the might of the Gods backing him, Horus had been too weak to deal the final blow. He faltered and died, leaving his forces headless and bleeding.
Absent-mindly, he leafs through the book. It has no value that much is clear. The information within are inexact at best, and incorrect at worse. A child’s book, given by a parent to keep them ignorant of how the world truly works. By keeping it Horus had proven he was such a child, unprepared for the great duty placed on his shoulders.
And so he failed.
No one has stepped up and taken his place—the Primarchs had each taken their Legion and fled. In the end, none of them dared to usurp Horus place, even after he had proven himself unworthy. The demagogue Lorgar, the first to discover the true Gods, bitter Perturabo, who had resented Horus’s rise to Warmaster, blood-thirsty Angron and charismatic Fulgim, none of them had even tried. They had fled.
He gazes down at the book and slowly, methodically starts tearing it apart. Page by page, he rips them from the cover. They scatter around him, like snowflakes, but he picks them up and continues his work of destruction. Each page becomes nothing more than scattered fragments. He spots the title “Dreadful Sagittary” and deliberately rips it letter by letter, and then the letters until the fragments are too small for his large fingers to grip. He lets them fall with a snarl and picks himself up.
He casts his gaze around the room, feeling memories assault him from every corner. Here, on this couch, Horus would lounge and speak with him and his brothers. There, on his desk he would sit and write, penning directives and signing reports. Shadows of the dead surround him—Horus towering over him in his black armour, Trogaddon laughing at Loken…
He shakes his head. The room belongs to the ghosts and he has no place for them. Without thinking, he throws himself at the desk, raining blows upon its sturdy surfaces. He rages, wrecking furniture and scattering belongings, until only ruins remain. And still, he cannot shake away the feeling that Horus is there, watching him with disapproval, as if he had any right to judge him.
Too much like his father, Horus had been prideful. Just like the Emperor, he had failed his sons. He left them with only bitter disappointment and broken dreams of glory.
Abbaddon looks around, taking in the destruction he had wreaked. He feels empty: the abandoned son of a god. Horus had left him, just as the Emperor had left the Warmaster back on Ullanor.
The brightest star had burnt out too early.